Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Hangover Cure

Pounding head? Feel like grabbing a bucket? Or better yet, curling into a ball and dy.. well... you get the idea. Muttering the words, 'I'm never drinking again' aren't going to help you now but don't worry, you're not alone. Most adults have experienced a hangover at least once in their life (but let's be honest, it probably a higher number).  Lucky for us, most people of legal drinking age quickly develop their own mysterious concoctions for either preventing or curing hangovers.  Some swear by having another alcoholic beverage upon waking (“the hair of the dog” approach).
Others will insist that the cure is in a few anti-inflammatory pills and a day spent in bed.  However, naturopaths always aim to treat the root cause of the problem.  So other than quitting drinking, what can we do to help prevent a hangover? Let's take this slow, we know reading a computer screen isn't the easiest thing in the world right now...

What is a hangover?
Before we can go about fixing the problem, it is important that we first understand what it is that we’re dealing with.  “Hangover” is the term used to describe a picture of symptoms caused by excessive consumption of alcohol a number of hours earlier (often the night before).  Their symptoms can be unique to the individual or even to the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, but generally they include: nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhoea, gas, dry-mouth, headache, dizziness, fatigue, clouded-thinking, and joint pain. Sound like you? Keep reading. 

The Cause
Besides the obvious as to the reason you feel this way, there are many factors that contribute to the symptoms of a hangover, but the most prevalent is Dehydration.  Alcohol is a diuretic, (big word, we know) which means that it causes the body to flush increased amounts of water out through the kidneys and into the urine.  This is also the reason for your increased urination during alcohol consumption. Remember?  Along with the increased flushing of water through the kidneys, many of the body’s water-soluble nutrients are flushed into the urine as well.  This leaves the drinker deficient in a number of vitamins and minerals, including: B VitaminsVitamin C, and Electrolytes like MagnesiumCalciumSodium, chloride and Potassium.  For other (inflammatory) effects of alcohol on the body, please see our Alcohol article.

Traditional Hangover Cures
I have heard a variety of interesting cures for hangovers.  Some are simple, like drinking a certain beverage (even pickle juice), or filling up on grease (Mc Donald's anyone?) others are complex concoctions of eggs, oils, foods, beverages and just about anything else you can think of.  While we always encourage you to experiment to discover what works best for your body, here are some recommendations backed by science.

So you didn't plan ahead...luckily for you, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. Unfortunately these aren't miracle cures, but these will prevent your morning hangover from taking over your entire afternoon and evening. Round two, anyone? We're kidding - please drink responsibly. 

The most important thing that you can do immediately after waking up with a hangover, is crawl straight back to bed.  Give your body a chance to rebalance and get its systems back in check by relaxing. It will limit the time you spend suffering when you're awake, trust us.

Drink fluids
Don't be fooled with the “hair of the dog” approach, this just delays the inevitable. But who are we to tell you what to do, SO if you must have a morning-after cocktail, make it a Caesar [Bloody Mary] due to the fact that it is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals.  If you make it a virgin, you're two steps ahead of the game. Instead focus on water and/or electrolyte solutions. Juice can also be useful because of its natural vitamin and mineral content.  In the case of severe nausea, be sure to focus only on electrolyte solutions and avoid drinking large amounts at a time.  Sip the fluids slowly and pace yourself.  For more information on these solutions, please see our Electrolytes article.

Avoid Over-the-Counter Drugs
While many will immediately reach for aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), these drugs are often not the answer.  They do calm the immediate pain, but can actually create a larger burden on your liver and slow the clearing of the remaining toxins in your blood.  For more information, please see our Liver Detoxarticle.  If you absolutely must function with your newfound hangover, try herbal anti-inflammatory supplements instead: like Boswellia, and Curcumin.  These are less of a burden on the liver, and can help block the same pain pathways as the drugs more commonly used.

As soon as you can stomach the thought of food, it's a good idea to begin reintroducing small simple meals.  This is a quick and easy way to replenish your electrolytes, and to give your stomach something to work on other than its own acid.  Some people will swear by a large greasy breakfast to help settle a nauseated hangover stomach (McDonald's here we come!), but it's typically better to start small and with simple foods like crackers, bread, or broth.

Get Outside
As soon as the worst of the nausea and headache has passed, it is important to get outside and move your body.  Seeing the sun and breathing fresh air can quickly clear your mind and get your bodies balance back on track.  If you can move your body while doing so, simply by walking, or whatever activity level you can handle, it will help you clear the toxic build-up in your system.  Being in nature has been linked to improved mood in as little as a few minutes. If your hangover allows you to do physical activity when you wake up (without vomiting) sweating can significantly increase your chances of shaking your hangover, faster. For more information on how our body clears alcohol, please see our Alcohol article.

Obviously, the best possible way to deal with a hangover is to prevent it from happening in the first place. But, we all know you can't go back in time, so here are some suggestions for next time: CLICK HERE

No comments: